Tuesday, January 15, 2013

PP moves away from "pro-choice" label.

[Today's post is re-posted from "Yeah, but..."]

Planned Parenthood is moving away from the term "pro-choice" in response polls showing dissatisfaction with abortion debate labels.
"I'm neither pro-choice nor pro-life," said one woman in a focus group commissioned by Planned Parenthood. "I'm pro-whatever-the-situation is." Said another, "there should be three: pro-life, pro-choice and something in the middle that helps people understand circumstances [...] It's not just back or white, there's grey."
Over at Slate magazine, Amanda Marcotte was frustrated with this response.  She claims that people who are "pro-whatever-the-situation-is" are pro-choice.
But if the women mean, as I suspect they do, that they are not pro-abortion but rather pro- a woman being able to make her decision based on her circumstances, that is the very definition of pro-choice.
This is also my understanding of the term "pro-choice." And I expect it's the understanding of most pro-choice activists. But is that how the term "pro-choice" translates to the general public--to people who aren't particularly involved in the abortion debate? Based on Planned Parenthood's research and response, it seems a lot of people hear "pro-choice" and feel it implies something more, a stronger stance.

It'll be interesting to see whether Planned Parenthood can transcend abortion debate labels. I think labels help people succinctly explain their perspectives; it just gets cumbersome trying to impart all the nuance every time you speak on a topic. I think the labels "pro-life" and "pro-choice" are going to be around for a long while still, but if they're not, I'm interested to see what takes their place.


Jameson Graber said...

I think the pro-choice advocates are missing something here. People don't like pro-"choice" because they don't think the issue is merely about exercising autonomy. I would guess that many people who accept abortion--who are effectively pro-choice--still hope it can become less common. In other words, it doesn't just depend on the woman's situation, in the sense that whether or not to buy a car depends on your situation. The reason there's "grey" for people on this issue is that they sense that the whole thing's a tragedy, everything from what leads to abortion to the thing itself, yet there's just no good solution. I think that's what people need a word for.

M said...

Excellent point. Maybe you could write a short SPL post about this?

Kara Baylog said...

Yes. Perhaps part of their problem is that until recently, the pro-choice banner has included everyone from those chanting, "Free abortion on demand without apology" to people who just want to see exceptions for heath, rape and incest. I've been told by people in the past that I am pro-choice for those very reasons. (I disagreed but the point remains). A lot of people don't want to associate with that extreme idea. I kind of feel like the whole pro-choice movement is doing what the NRA is doing. At one point, it was there in response to a genuine problem (protection of women/ protection of reasonable gun rights) but once they won their big battle, they try to stay relevant by demanding extreme measures (abortion on demand/ legality of ownership of assault weapons by just about anyone)

Michael Grady said...

Pro-choice advocates are not fond of their label because choices often lie between good and evil. I say this because in actuality, everyone "chooses": anyone can choose life and anyone can end life. Since there is nothing wrong about choosing to let an unborn life live, there is something at the very least intuitively wrong in the pro-choice mind with the thought or action of ending a life. They are bothered by it, and justifiably so. It is showing and often obvious. How the mentality has lasted even this long is a testament to the depth of the very nature of the evil deeds one human can do to another, whether in the womb or out of it (ie, wars, terrorist actions, bullying, etc).

Ashley Wool said...

Of course she's "pro-whatever-the-situation-is." Because she wants to keep her job. As long as Planned Parenthood runs abortion clinics, they are pro-abortion, no matter what else they want to call themselves.

Clinton Wilcox said...

Planned Parenthood has never been pro-choice -- they are, and have always been, pro-abortion. They believe in abortions through all nine months with no restrictions, and constantly and consistently fight tooth-and-nail against common sense legislation, even legislation designed to help protect women/girls.